The Consequences of Cohabitation


Marriage is becoming more like buying a car—people want a “test drive” before they sign on the dotted line.  The reasons are varied.  Some feel it’s not the right time for marriage; some think living together is the best insurance against divorce.  Others claim economic reasons for cohabitation.

Several months ago, I read an article in USA Today that reported on a new study about marriage.  The study showed that Americans feel marriage is becoming obsolete.  It stated that more and more couples are choosing to live together instead of marrying.  But the overwhelming statistics from years of research show that those couples who choose to cohabitate in lieu of marriage actually make themselves susceptible to some very undesirable outcomes, including divorce, abuse, less money and lack of commitment.


A study on premarital cohabitation conducted by researchers from Yale University, Columbia University, and the Institute for Resource Development at Westinghouse revealed that “the divorce rates of women who cohabit are nearly 80 percent higher than the rates of those who do not.”


A study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that marital status was the strongest predictor of abuse—ahead of race, age, education or housing conditions.  Women in cohabiting relationships are more likely than wives to be abused.

Less Money.

Many Americans say that they live together for financial reasons; however cohabiting couples accumulate less wealth than married couples. Married men earn 10 to 40 percent more than single or cohabiting men.

Lack of Commitment.

Couples who live together are often less committed to the relationship over the long-term. And since marriage is the ultimate manifestation of commitment, married couples are more often willing to work out their differences before walking out of the relationship. Couples who cohabit are more likely to break up than couples who are married, regardless of age or income. On average, cohabitations last less than two years; and both men and women in live-in situations are more likely to be unfaithful to their partners than married people.

Marriage is not obsolete. It is a God-ordained institution. And it’s painfully obvious that living together before, or instead of, marriage isn’t worth the risks; doing so will only hinder and fracture a couple’s hope for a long and healthy marriage.

How have you seen your decision to live together, or not live together, before your wedding affect your marriage?

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